For those of you who, for the past eight years, have been following the progress of the Western Slope Animal Shelter, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, for the homeowners in the residential development whose properties border the proposed site, it appears to be an oncoming train. The location, 6425 Capitol Avenue in Diamond Springs, is positioned a mere 100 feet or so from a residential subdivision. How can an animal shelter, housing incalculable numbers of animals — dogs, cats, fowl, and livestock (horses, sheep, goats, pigs and cows) — be suitable for placement next to homes?
The Negative Declaration document drawn up by the El Dorado County Planning Department describes the acquisition of a 4.27-acre parcel of land, improvements to an existing 21,000-square-foot building to accommodate shelter operations, construction of a 2,500-square-foot barn and installation of paddocks for livestock containment, other large animals and dogs.
I was wondering why the county states there will be no odor, even though the waste the shelter plans to scoop from the paddocks, dog pens and cat litter boxes twice a day, and placed in plastic bags, will then be put into a dumpster, on site, surrounded by insects, giving off odors, awaiting garbage pickup every three or four days.
I was also wondering about urine — not just horse urine, but all livestock urine, saturating the ground, releasing odors into the air. There are no clean-up protocols for that. Nonetheless, the document states that there will be “Less Than Significant Impact.”
I was wondering about the noise. The document states, “… the potential weak path for sound transmission to the ‘exterior’ is through the roof/ceiling assembly.” It appears they anticipate the roof will allow the noise of barking dogs housed inside the shelter to be a problem but they say it will have “No Significant Impact.”
Dogs contained in an inner portion of the building will go outdoors for exercise and play time. Dogs exercising and playing may not be a serious source of barking, but the first frisky “woof,” will commence a cacophony of barking by neighborhood dogs in response. Noise: “Less Than Significant Impact.”
A barn and paddocks will be built to house livestock. The document states, “Large animals in the outdoor pens near the residential property line should be routinely monitored to make sure these animals are not creating abnormal and/or loud noises, especially at night.” Since the property is not staffed at night, I was wondering, who will be monitoring the livestock?
The barn and paddocks will be placed less than 200 feet from the bedroom window of the nearest residence but the county again claims there will be “No Significant Impact.”
There was absolutely no mention of insects: flies, non-biting disease carriers and bloodsucking tormentors attracted to animal waste; mosquitoes breeding near water troughs and leaking hoses (think West Nile virus); or rodents. Also not mentioned was any type of fencing for the perimeter, or fire suppression systems. Security for the site when no staff is present was completely overlooked. Perhaps those items were thought of as having “No Significant Impact.”
While I sincerely hope the county finds a suitable location, just as sincerely, I hope the county realizes a residential subdivision is no place to locate an animal shelter. Read the Negative Declaration document at edugov.us/planning. It is a great work of fiction. After reading it, I was wondering and now, I hope you are too.